Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Common's Galore...

Once again, this is a well overdue post.  This was partly, because I had very little to report on, and then in just two days, I had too much to report.  With the easing of lockdown measures, I have been out and about looking for rings, but colony sites such as the RSPB's WoW Reserve in Belfast (viewing rooms still closed), the Castle Espie Wetland Centre and Rathlin Island, are all still closed to the public.

I've checked out coastal Common Gull sites at Ballintoy and Waterfoot, have spotted rings at both sites, but have not been able to photograph details.  At Ballintoy, one metal-rung Common Gull, was just out of reach from my camera.  Being on a small islet, photo taken show digits, but these could not be distinguished.

I had the same problem with a metal-rung Common Gull at Waterfoot, but a colour-ringed bird there, is evading me.  Hopefully, I'll 'nail' this one fairly soon.

I've also made several visits to Glynn, on Larne Lough, hoping to record colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls, which would have been ringed as chicks, on the nearby Blue Circle Island.  Metals, have been spotted on Black-headed, Common and a Mediterranean Gull, but these were too distant to read, as were a couple of Sandwich Terns.

Just the one colour-ringed gull has been recorded at Glynn, which was a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull, from the Republic of Ireland.    589:D , was ringed as a chick, on the 7th July 2019, on Ireland's Eye, an island just off the County Dublin coast.  Having reported the gull to Graham Prole, this was the first re-sighting of the bird.  The duration, was 10 months and 24 days, since being ringed, having travelled 161 kms / 100 miles (N).  My thanks to Graham for the details.

(Juvenile) Great Black-backed Gull  -    589:D   -  Glynn, Larne Lough, Co. Antrim  (31 May 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 7th July 2019, on Ireland's Eye, Co. Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

On top of all this, at home, we have been redecorating the downstairs, which has also taken up a lot of time, as well as no internet connection on a few occasions.

Yesterday (23rd June), I was at Millisle again, and re-sighted another two Common Gulls, which had not been recorded since 2018 & 2019 respectively, and came across a third, which was a first re-sighting since being ringed in 2010.  More on these in my next post, and hopefully a whole lot more.
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      From Suzanne Belshaw       
A couple of emails have arrived from one of my 'Ring Reading' counterparts - Suzanne Belshaw.  On the 1st June, Suzanne called by Antrim Marina, and recorded four colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls, three of which, were of special interest.  These three gulls -   2CSJ ,   2CSK   &   2FDK , had been ringed by me at Antrim Marina over the previous two winters, but their status as residents or winter visitors was unknown.

Due to the continueing construction of the new 'Gateway Centre' last summer (2019), the gulls were often put off from visiting the Marina, which did not help in ascertaining their status.  Having already had a couple of summer sightings of both   2CSJ   &   2FDK   (by Kate McAllister), it looks as if these two are residents.    2CSK , on the other hand is a first sighting for this summer, and therefore is a resident as well.  The fourth gull -   2CJT , was already known to be a year round resident.

  2CSJ , was ringed as a second winter bird on the 17th December 2017 at Antrim Marina.  All 74 sightings of this gull has been made at the Marina, and the duration since being ringed is now 2 years, 5 months and 15 days.

All sightings of   2CSK   (54 in all), have also been made at the Marina.    2CSK , was also ringed on the 17th December 2017, as an un-sexed adult at the Marina.  The duration is also 2 years, 5 months and 15 days.

  2FDK , was ringed at the Marina last winter, on the 18th November 2019.  Ringed as an un-sexed adult, this is the 18th sighting to be reported, the duration now being 6 months and 14 days.

  2CJT , was ringed at the Marina, as a first winter bird, on the 4th December 2016.  Known to be a year round resident, Suzanne's sighting is the 129th record of the bird at the Marina, the duration now being 3 years, 5 months and 28 days.

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSJ   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (01 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed 2nd Winter Bird, on the 17th December 2017, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CSK   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (01 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 17th December 2017, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

Black-headed Gull  -    2CJT   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (01 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a 1st Winter Bird, on the 4th December 2016, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

Black-headed Gull  -    2FDK   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (01 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 18th November 2019, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

Suzanne was in County Down on the 13th June, and whilst at Castle Park, in the coastal town of Newcastle, she spotted a colour-ringed juvenile Herring Gull -   A28:D .  Having reported her sighting to Graham Prole in Dublin, she received a very prompt reply.

  A28:D , was ringed as a chick, on the 22nd June 2019, at Lambay Island, Co. Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland.  Suzanne's sighting was the first for the bird, which came 11 months and 22 days after being ringed.  Newcastle, lies 82 kms / 50 miles (N), from Lambay Island.

My thanks goes to Suzanne for her sightings and photos.

(Juvenile) Herring Gull  -    A28:D   -  Castle Park, Newcastle, Co. Down  (13 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 22nd June 2019, on Lambay Island, Co. Dublin, Republic of Ireland)
(Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Belshaw)

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      From Richard Else on Rathlin Island       
Another couple of emails have arrived from Ric (Richard) Else, who lives on Rathlin Island, concerning sightings from my Common Gull project.  As I write, we are now in the middle of June, and I should be on the island colour-ringing this summer's chicks.  However, the island is still in lockdown, and has yet to get approval from our local Government, to re-open to the public.  All, is not lost yet.  Should circumstances change fairly soon, even the first week of July, would see the latest chicks being ringed.

On the 13th June, Ric reported -   2APC   &   2BBL .  The sighting of   2APC , is the 5th record, and this bird was ringed as a chick, on the 17th June 2017, at the island's Rue Point.    2APC , was'nt seen again, until the 4th June 2019, when Ric photographed the gull, having returned to Rue Point.  This was the only sighting for 2019, and no doubt, the bird had been prospecting for a nest site.

  2APC , returned to Rue Point on the 8th April 2020, now old enough to breed for the first time.  Ric had also recorded the gull at Rue, on the 16th May and 13th June.

The sighting of   2BBL   at Doon Bay on Rathlin, was a first for this bird, having been ringed as a chick, on the 26th June 2018, at Doon Bay.  This is yet another of the 2018 birds, which have returned to prospect nest sites this summer, as they'll not reach breeding age until next year.  As of the 13th June, the duration since being ringed, is now 1 year, 11 months and 18 days.

Common Gull  -    2BBL   -  Doon Bay, Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim  (13 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 26th June 2018, at Doon Bay, Rathlin Island)
(Photo Courtesy of Hazel Watson)

In the second email which arrived on the 20th June,   2APC   (mentioned above) and   2APT , were both recorded again at Rue Point.    2APT , was also ringed as a chick, on the 17th June 2017, and went un-recorded until the summer of 2019, when it arrived back onto the island to prospect for a nest site.  Ric recorded the gull at Rue Point, on the 13th April & 4th June 2019, whilst I spotted the gull there on the 18th June 2019.

Again, the gull was not re-sighted anywhere until the 3rd April 2020, where it was spotted by Ric, back at Rue Point.  Since then, Ric has spotted   2APT   at Rue, on the 8th April, 2nd,19th & 30th May, and now, on the 20th June.

The duration for both   2APC   &   2APT , is 3 years and 3 days, both being the first birds from my new project, to reach the three year mark.  My thanks goes to Ric and Hazel Watson for their continued sightings of my study birds.  

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      From Kate McAllister       
An email arrived from a Kate McAllister on the 17th June, reporting the sighting of another colour-ringed Black-headed Gull at Antrim Marina.  Sightings at the Marina from Kate, have been helpful over the lockdown period.

Her latest sighting, was that of   2AAV , which is among the earliest gulls to be colour-ringed, during Adam's former project.   2AAV , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 28th December 2012, and is known to be an all year round resident to the Antrim area.  During the winter, if not at Antrim Marina,   2AAV   can often be found around Antrim's Elim Church, on the Parkhall Housing Estate.

During the breeding season, the gull likely nests on the nearby former 'Torpedo Platform', and frequents the Marina for an easy feed.  Having fully updated Adam's Database, this is the 146th sighting of   2AAV   to be recorded, and the duration since being ringed, is now 7 years, 5 months and 19 days.

My thanks goes to Kate, for her latest sighting, along with a photo. 

Black-headed Gull  -    2AAV   -  Antrim Marina, Antrim Town, Co. Antrim  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 28th December 2012, at Antrim Marina)
(Photo Courtesy of Kate McAllister)

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      Millisle on 15th June 2020       
Along with my own Common Gull project, which I began on Rathlin Island during the summer of 2017, I now look after Shane Wolsey's former Common Gull study, based on Big Copeland Island, which ran from 2009 until 2014.  Having taken over Shane's study, very few re-sightings have been reported to me, and I've been trying my best to re-sight the gulls concerned.

Over the last couple of years, I've been trying to find a means to get to Big Copeland Island, as I reckoned there would be many gulls breeding there, that have not been re-sighted since the day they were ringed.  The break through arrived earlier this year, when boatman Philip McNamara, said he would take me over, if I gained the permission of the landowner, Alan McCulla.  Permission was given, but I thought the lockdown had scuppered my chances to get onto the island.

With the easing of lockdown measures, I happened to be in my local store, buying a couple of loaves for a visit to Millisle, to find I had missed a phone call from Philip.  He was willing to take me over to the island the following day at 9am.  I was in to minds, whether to cancel today's visit to Millisle, thinking I could visit on my return from Big Copeland Island.  I decided to head on to Millisle, just in the event that I might end up with an information overload.  As things panned out, this was a good decision.

Arriving at Millisle, there were six colour-ringed Common Gulls, along with three others which were ringed with metals only.  The first two which I will mention are   2BBC   &   2ADX , which were also recorded on the same day by Graham McElwaine.

   2BBC , has the most lengthy record, of any of the Common Gulls to be ringed on Big Copeland Island.  Ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2009, it has been recorded only on the Millisle seafront since it's first re-sighting on the 12th December 2011 (Marc Ruddock).  Today's sightings by both Graham and myself, takes the total number of reports to 38.  The duration is now 10 years, 11 months and 23 days, since being ringed. 

Common Gull  -    2BBC   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2009, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

The next gull -   2ADX , posed a problem for Graham, as the ring was in such poor condition, he was only able to make out the 2, A & X, but was unsure of the middle letter.  Having received the email from Graham, he was then informed that the missing letter, was a D.

I on the other hand, know only too well, how difficult it can be to read these rings, and only close up shots of the indentation of the characters, reveal what they are.

  2ADX , was ringed as a chick, on the 1st June 2010, on Big Copeland Island.  All 24 re-sightings have been made along the Millisle seafront, with the first re-sighting having been reported on the 28th February 2013 (David Nixon).  The duration as of today's sighting, is 10 years and 14 days.

Common Gull  -    2ADX   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st June 2010, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

I was surprised to find that the ring on   2ACA , was still actually on the bird at all.    2ACA , was ringed as an un-sexed breeding adult, on the 14th May 2010, on Big Copeland Island.  The first of many re-sightings along the Millisle seafront, was on the 3rd September 2012 (Marc Ruddock).  The only sighting away from Millisle, was made by me, on the 29th June 2018, at Donaghadee, a few kilometers north.  With today's sighting, the duration since being ringed, is now 10 years, 1 month and 1 day.

Common Gull  -    2ACA   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Unsexed Breeding Adult, on the 14th May 2010, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

The next gull presented me with a dilemma, as a chuck of it's colour-ring has broken off completly.  I had to resort to taking photos of it's metal ring, and successfully captured -   EX38531 .  The gull concerned, was   2AHX , a bird I first encountered on the 1st June 2019, which then solved another problem.

According to Shane's ringing data,   2AHX , had been assigned to two different metal rings -   EX38548   &   EX38531 .  At the time, I did not realise, this was the bird in question, but I was lucky enough to capture the final three digits (  '531' ), whilst taking a photo of the colour-ring.

  2AHX , was ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2012, on Big Copeland Island.  Prior to my sighting last summer,   2AHX   had only been recorded on a single occasion.  Jen (Jennifer) Lynch, spotted the gull on the 13th October 2015, on a beach at Omeath, County Louth, in the Republic of Ireland.  Today's sighting, is just the third for this bird, the duration now being 7 years, 11 months and 23 days, since being ringed.

Common Gull  -    2AHX   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2012, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

Today's sighting of   2ANJ , is now the 11th record of the gull since ringing, with all sightings having been made here, along the Millisle seafront.  Ringed as a chick, on the 11th June 2012, on Big Copeland Island, it's first ever re-sighting was made on the 30th July 2013 (Adam McClure).  Today's sighting takes the duration since ringing, to 8 years, and 4 days.

Common Gull  -    2ANJ   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

The re-sighting of   2HSH , was very welcomed.  I first recorded this one at Millisle, on the 21st July 2018, and then again at Millisle, on the 1st September 2018.  Ringed as a chick, on the 10th June 2011, on Big Copeland Island, there had only been one previous sighting.  This occurred on the 30th July 2013, here on the Millisle seafront (Adam McClure).  The duration since ringing, is now 9 years, and 5 days.  Little did I know at the time, I was to record   2HSH   again tomorrow, on Big Copeland Island (read below).

Common Gull  -    2HSH   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 10th June 2011, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

The next ring to be read, was that of one of the three Common Gulls, ringed with metals only.  Each time, I try to read a metal, I attempt to take photos from different angles in order to record the number.  At the start of this process, I take a photo of my steering wheel first, before concentrating on the gull concerned.  Should the gull fly off, and the number is not completed, then I erase those pictures.

With one gull, I successfully captured the number -   EW51696 , having made notes in my notebook with each photo taken.  However, whilst trying to take photos of other metal-rung Common Gulls, they flew off and I actually erased the photos of   EW51696   by mistake.  This happened due to the continueing disturbance I had to experience with people passing by, an observation also noted by Graham McElwaine, during his visit.

However,   EW51696   was ringed as a chick, on the 6th June 2009, on Big Copeland Island, and un-surprisingly, today's sighting was a first for the gull.  The duration for this one, is 11 years, and 9 days.

As well as the Common Gulls, I also recorded two ringed Herring Gulls, both of whom are no strangers to the Millisle Seafront.  The first of these, was my 16th sighting of   GA00153 .  This bird, was mistakenly ringed as a Lesser Black-backed Gull chick, on the 22nd June 2005, on Big Copeland Island.  As yet, the gull has not been reported by anyone else, and the duration, is now 14 years, 11 months and 24 days, since being ringed.

Herring Gull  -    GA00153   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Lesser Black-backed Gull Chick, on the 22nd June 2005, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

Today's sighting of Herring Gull   4M:W , is the 12th record of the bird along the Millisle seafront.  Ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 6th May 2015, on Big Copeland Island, it may well have been breeding at the time.  The first sighting was made by me, on the 3rd January 2016, and was last seen on the 1st January 2020, when spotted by Jeff Higgott, who was on holiday here at the time.  The duration is now 5 years, 1 month and 10 days.

The island of Big Copeland, lies 8 kms / 5 miles north of Millisle, which applies to all of the birds mentioned above.

Herring Gull  -    4M:W   -  Millisle, Drumfad Bay, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

Having had a productive 'Ring Reading' session at Millisle, I moved on southwards with Portavogie Harbour, being my final destination for the day.  All along the coast, there were few gulls to be seen, as beaches were quite well populated with folk enjoying the sunshine.

I couldn't have arrived at Portavogie Harbour at a better time, as several fishing boats began arriving back to port.  The gulls, mostly Herring and Great Black-backed's, were going 'ballistic', as the remains of gutted fish were being dumped overboard.  Several fully grown Seals drew alongside the vessels and also enjoyed an easy meal.

Two metal-rung Herring Gulls were spotted.  One bird, a full adult, kept eluding me and I had no chance to photograph it's ring.  The other, a juvenile, was more obliging and I captured the number which read   GN91438 .  Having reported the bird to the BTO, via my DemOn account, I received the ringing details a couple of days later.

  GN91438 , was ringed as a chick, on the 28th June 2019, on Sanda Island, Argyll & Bute, in Scotland.  This was a first re-sighting since ringing - 11 months and 18 days later.  The distance from Sanda, to Portavogie, is 92 kms / 57 miles (S).

Juvenile Herring Gull  -    GN91438   -  Portavogie Harbour, Portavogie, Co. Down  (15 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 28th June 2019, on the Isle of Sanda, Argyll & Bute, Scotland)

It was no wonder, that the fishing boats were returning in mass, as shortly after completing the number for my juvenile Herring Gull, a sea mist began to flow over the coast.  It was time to return home, with a good number of rings read, which accounted for a very good outing.

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      Big Copeland Island - 16th June 2020       
This was my first ever visit to Big Copeland Island, a visit I thought would not take place due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  Having permission from the landowner to go onto the island, the recent easing of certain lockdown rules, gave me an un-expected opportunity to visit the island.  Everything rested on boatman Philip McNamara, agreeing to take me over.  Having missed a phone call, whilst in my local store buying bread for my visit to Millisle, I phoned Philip, and was really delighted, as he would take me over at 9am the next day.

The reason for my visit, was to locate colour-ringed Common Gulls belonging to Shane Wolsey's former study on the island, which ran from 2009 until 2014.  I strongly believed, that there had to be gulls which were still alive, but had never been recorded since the day they were ringed.

My visit, had it's good and bad points.  One bad point, was the Arctic Terns, who were nesting very close to both Common and Black-headed Gulls, thus preventing rings being read, as disturbance to these dainty little birds must be kept to a minimum.  Nesting close to the smaller gulls present very little problems, but these same gulls would offer protection from the much larger gulls and crows, who would take the eggs or chicks.

The Arctic Terns, were nesting in three colonies on the southern shore of the island, and possibly numbered around 200 to 250 pairs altogether.  Most nests contained eggs, which numbered 1 to 3, though 2 was the most common number.  Three nests were discovered with chicks, 2 of which had 1 egg and 1 chick, whilst the third contained 2 chicks.  

Three Arctic Tern nests  -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)

Another bad point, did concern the Common Gulls themselves.  Overall numbers, did not even get close to those stated in the Northern Ireland Seabird Report.  The last survey conducted on the island was in 2012, when 452 nests were recorded, down from a total of 830 nests in 2009.  There were plenty of empty nests during my visit, but these no where came close to the number quoted in 2012.  I did not have time to survey the whole island, so other colonies may exist.

Despite all of the empty nests found, there were precious few chicks about, which suggests the Common Gulls have had a poor breeding season.  This point has been 'echoed' by Ric Else, who is in lockdown on Rathlin Island, and is in a good position to follow the gulls there.

On the 'Ring Reading' front, I did obtain some excellent results.  A few gulls with colour-rings were not approached, as they were nesting too close to the Arctic Terns.  Despite the poor condition of some colour-rings, I still managed to get results, but the indentation on two other rings could not be read.  On top of these, there were many gulls ringed with metals only, but some of these birds may have originally been ringed with colour-rings as well.

As time was limited, I never tried to read any metals, and just focussed on finding colour-rings.  One interesting sighting, was that of   2HSH , which I recorded at Millisle yesterday.  With today's sighting, the duration since being ringed, is 9 years and 6 days.

Common Gull  -    2HSH   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 10th June 2011, on Big Copeland Island)

I discovered three gulls, whose rings were read for the first time since being ringed.  My favourite of the three, was   2AFA , due to the condition of the ring.  This bird had been ringed on the island, as a chick, on the 1st June 2010.  The duration was 10 years and 15 days since being ringed.

Common Gull  -    2AFA   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 1st June 2010, on Big Copeland Island)

The next two new sightings, were of birds with Yellow rings.  Shane Wolsey, had originally began his project using these rings, but changed over to Blue, as Yellow clashed with the colour of the gulls legs.  It was decided, that blue rings would be seen far more easily.  As can be seen, the yellow rings remain in quite good condition after all these years.

  2AAF  &   2AAJ , were both caught and ringed on the island, as un-sexed breeding adults, on the 18th May 2009.  Having recorded both of them for the first time, was an excellent result, seeing as they are both still alive.  The duration for these two, is 11 years and 29 days.

Common Gull  -    2AAF   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 18th May 2009, on Big Copeland Island)

Common Gull  -    2AAJ   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 18th May 2009, on Big Copeland Island)

  2AJN , was another new sighting for me, but today's record was not the first for this bird.    2AJN , was ringed on the island as a chick, on the 11th June 2012.  It's only previous sighting was made on the 19th August 2012, just two months and 8 days after being ringed.  It was spotted by a Mícheál Cowming, at Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, in the Republic of Ireland.  This was an impressive 318 kms / 197 miles (SSW), from Big Copeland Island.  Today's sighting takes the duration to 8 years and 5 days.

Common Gull  -    2AJN   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on Big Copeland Island)

  2ANN , is also a first for me, but yet again, this was a second re-sighting.  As with   2AJN   above,   2ANN   was ringed on the island on the 11th June 2012, and it was first spotted by Geoff Hunt, at Sarsfield Loch, Co. Limerick, in the Republic of Ireland, on the 13th January 2013.  The duration at that time, was 7 months and 2 days, with a distance of 301 kms / 187 miles (SW), having been covered.  Just like   2AJN , the duration now since ringing is now 8 years and 5 days.

Common Gull  -    2ANN   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 11th June 2012, on Big Copeland Island)

  2AVA , was ringed as a chick, on the 23rd June 2012, here on Big Copeland Island.  The gull went un-recorded until last Autumn, when Tom Cooney, spotted   2AVA , on the 14th September 2019.  It was recorded on the shore in Dundalk Bay, Co. Louth, in the Republic of Ireland.  The distance, was 89 kms / 57 miles (SW), from Big Copeland, and the duration at that time, was 7 years, 2 months and 22 days.  A first sighting for myself, the duration as of today, is 7 years, 11 months and 24 days.  Of note, is the reasonably good condition of the colour-ring, so hopefully future sightings are a possibility.

Common Gull  -    2AVA   -  Big Copeland Island, The Copeland Islands, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 23rd June 2012, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

  2AVN , yet another first re-sighting for me, was ringed as a chick, on the 27th June 2014, here on the island.  It's only other sighting, was made on the 3rd October 2016, when David Nixon recorded the gull at the Inner Bay, at Dundrum, Co. Down.  The duration at that time, was 2 years, 3 months and 6 days.

David, along with Suzanne Belshaw, were supposed to come with me to Big Copeland, as both are experienced 'Ring Readers', with good cameras.  Due to 'social distancing', I unfortuantly could not bring them along this time.  The duration since being ringed, is now 5 years, 11 months and 20 days.

Common Gull  -    2AVN   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 27th June 2014, on Big Copeland Island)

Today's sighting of   2HTT , is the third record of the gull since being ringed on Big Copeland Island, on the 2nd June 2011.  Both of the previous sightings were made on the Donaghadee seafront, just 2 kms / 1 miles to the south.  The first re-sighting was made by Suzanne Belshaw, on the 30th May 2016, whilst I recorded the gull, on the 21st August 2017.  To know yet another bird was still alive and well, was good to record, and the duration has now increased to 9 years and 14 days.

Common Gull -    2HTT   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as a Chick, on the 2nd June 2011, on Big Copeland Island, Co. Down)

Every so often, I would give the Common Gulls a break, and give them peace for a while.  Venturing into the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls colonies, I looked for colour-rings on these as well.  I know Herring Gulls were colour-ringed on the island during 2014 and 2015, but I'm not sure about the aims of this project, as no further birds were ringed.  There are colour-ringing projects, east of Copeland, on the Isle of Man, and north-east in Ayrshire, Scotland, so it's worthwhile keeping an eye out for these birds as well, should they relocate to breed on Copeland.  Some Lesser Black-backed's, are ringed in Portugal, so I was also worth keeping an eye out for Black Darvic's.

Three colour-ringed Herring Gulls were spotted.    1K:W , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 6th May 2015.  Previous re-sightings were made on the 31st August 2015, at Donaghadee by Suzanne Belshaw, 4th February 2017, at Donaghadee by myself (2 kms / 1 mile (S)), and on the 17th October 2017, on the beach just north of Millisle, again by me (6 kms / 3 miles (S)).  The duration since ringing is now 5 years, 1 month and 10 days.

Herring Gull  -    1K:W   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015, on Big Copeland Island)

The re-sighting of   2K:W , was only my second record for this gull since it was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 5th May 2015.  On the 20th October 2018, I came across the bird on the Donaghadee seafront, just 2 kms from the island.  I'm well pleased with having recorded the bird again, the duration now being 5 years, 1 month and 11 days.

Herring Gull  -    2K:W   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 5th May 2015, on Big Copeland Island)

The sighting of   4X:W , was also a second re-sighting, as I had first recorded this bird earlier in the year, also on the Donaghadee seafront, on the 19th January 2020.    4X:W , was ringed as an un-sexed adult, on the 6th May 2015, the duration now 5 years, 1 month and 10 days.

Herring Gull  -    4X:M   -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)
(Ringed as an Un-Sexed Adult, on the 6th May 2015)

My first ever visit to Big Copeland Island, was quite satisfactory, with a nice haul of colour-rings being recorded.  I had originally planned for three visits in May, but due to the lockdown, this was not possible.  May would have been a better time to visit, as all of the gulls would have been on eggs, and more colour-ringed gulls may well have been recorded, before the inevitable failed nesting attempts.  I still find it extremely surprising, that many of these gulls are not recorded elsewhere, especially during the winter months.  With the Copeland Common Gulls, this is not really surprising due to the continuous wearing of the rings, but younger birds and those that have been ringed more recently on Rathlin Island, do have rings in far superior condition.

I shall try and get out for another visit or two, and the requested one day trip out this past weekend (20th to 23rd June), did not happen.  I had no word from my boatman Philip, so the tides and of course poor weather, was likely to be the reason why.  I've also requested a one day visit next weekend (27th to 30th June), so hopefully, this one might get the go ahead.

On my travels along the southern shore of Big Copeland Island, I did fall in with one other interesting character.  This juvenile Hooded Crow, had mainly brown pigmentation, which normally should be grey and black.  This unusual colouring, may have resulted in hybrid breeding between the grey and black Hooded Crow, and the all black Carrion Crow, but no Carrion Crow's were seen during my visit.

Unusually coloured Juvenile Hooded Crow  -  Big Copeland Island, Co. Down  (16 Jun 2020)

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